General Assembly Schedule
The General Assembly completed legislative day 26 of 40 on Friday.  They will be in session Monday through Wednesday this week.

March 3rd is day 30, or “crossover day,” a bill must pass the chamber in which it originated by that date to still be eligible for passage this year.

Issue to Watch – Common Core
One of the Georgia Chamber’s top issues, the continued implementation of the Common Core State Standards, continues to be the subject of debate.  A substitute to Senate Bill 167, sponsored by Sen. William Ligon (Brunswick), was reported favorably by the Senate Education and Youth Committee yesterday.  Among other measures, the bill codifies into law a number of the measures included in Governor Deal’s executive order on Common Core issued last year.

The Common Core standards, which cover reading, writing and math for K through 12 students, were developed by a coalition of 47 states led by Georgia.  They are more rigorous than Georgia’s prior standards, emphasizing key skills including critical thinking and problem solving that are essential for every career.

The Georgia Chamber continues to monitor this important issue and will share updates as they are available.

Legislative Action on Chamber Priorities

House Bill 176: Mobile Broadband Structure Leads to Development (BILD) Act
Chamber Position: Support; Scorecard
HB 176, the Mobile Broadband Structure Leads to Development (BILD) Act, sponsored by Representative Don Parsons (Marietta) was reported favorably by the Senate Regulated Industries and Utilities Committee Wednesday.  This bill provides for a streamlined regulatory process for companies investing in new or upgrading existing wireless infrastructure.  Wireless and broadband infrastructure is a vital economic development resource to attract business and improve the quality of life for area residents, especially in rural Georgia, and this bill encourages those continued, important investments.

Senate Bill 213: Flint River Drought Protection Act
Chamber Position: Support; Scorecard
SB 213 sponsored by Sen. Ross Tolleson (Perry) passed the Senate March 7, 2013 and is currently in the House Rules Committee.  The bill amends the current Flint River Drought Protection Act to ensure the protection of the environment while also enhancing  Georgia’s agricultural economy in the Lower Flint River basin during times of extreme drought. This preventive measure will strengthen the state’s legal defenses to challenges by third-party activist groups and neighboring states. While the bill does not directly affect water users outside of the Flint, the interests and economies of different regions of the state are interconnected. Passage of SB 213 would further demonstrate Georgia’s responsible management of water resources and enhance our economic development efforts in the lower Flint River region.

SB 213 does not make any changes to existing water rights nor does it authorize interbasin transfers or make changes to existing permitting processes. It only establishes parameters to be utilized during an emergency drought situation.

House Resolutions 1158 and 1159: To Strengthen Access to Domestic Energy Sources
House Resolutions 1158 and 1159 sponsored by Rep. Chuck Martin (Alpharetta) passed the House on Monday by a vote of 163-5 and 159-6, respectively.  The resolutions encourage the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Congress to establish a national energy policy that strengthens access to and removal of impediments to all available domestic sources of energy, as well as improving energy affordability and reliability.  The resolutions resolve that the EPA should grant Georgia EPD and other states’ environmental regulatory agencies maximum flexibility to implement carbon dioxide performance standards for fossil-fueled power plants within their jurisdiction.  The EPA has continued to move toward the implementation of new regulations that threaten the use of coal as a viable source of energy in our state.